Hotels and businesses in India – what they do right and wrong
I run an outsourcing site and have been to India five tmes. I’m familiar with Indian businesses and what they do right and wrong. The sad part is that many of the business owners are oblivious to what they do right or wrong.
What people do right
In a nut shell, India is a friendly place, and businesses usually have some nice people to chat with when you go to talk about business. There is not as much time pressure as in America or Singapore. People are more laid back and easy going in India. Chai, samosas and cookies are some of the benefits of doing business in India. However, coffee is rarely one of the perks, unless its Madras coffee. Programmers and internet workers in India are young and fast. Companies often overstaff themselves, making it possible to get lots done fast without the “pipeline effect” that we have in America.
What goes wrong
Having enough middle level managers to assist with customer service and supervise work going through is hard to find at many companies. Poor communication skills are a trademark at Indian companies. The boss will know five languages, but the rest of the people in the office will be communicationally challenged. Sales people often lack finesse and lack the proper amount of empathy necessary, and are often very pushy and go for a hard sell which many find disturbing. But, there are other problems as well.
The hotel market in India is a very different industry from outsourcing, but there are parallels. (1) They are in the same country as the outsourcers, (2) The culture is the same, and (3) They deal heavily with foreigners who have very different standards. Hotels in America function with very stiff competition. Hotels are categorized into an endless array of “Levels” which are as complicated as the social stratification system in Japan. You have to talk to someone for at least ten minutes to figure out who is supposed to bow down to the other in Japan.
Hotels – America Vs. India
There is Motel 6, Motel 8, Econo-lodge, Quality Inn, Radison, Hilton, Sheriton, Hyatt, and the list goes on. Each hotel has its own brand and set of customer expectations (or lack of them). In India, the big foreign hotels charge 50% more in India than they charge in the states while salaries in Indian metros are 80% less — do the math! Then, you have the no-name hotels owned by independent operators that don’t have any international standards to conform to. You will find all types of sloppy management in India that would get you outcasted from any franchise in America. As a matter of fact, I just visited a hotel that got kicked out of their franchise. They had nice staff and nice rooms, but there were lots of little things wrong with the infrastructure and service. Doors opened the wrong way, staff knocked on the door when the don’t disturb sign was up, the walls were new but the furniture was ancient… It made me say hmmm. In America, if enough little things are off, you lose at 50% of the value of the room.
In India, the small hotels will have staff members badger you every morning offering unwanted services ranging from laundry to newspapers. Then, you will be badgered again by someone who wants to offer you breakfast and always offers an unwanted omlette. When you try to explain that you don’t want too much cholesterol, they don’t understand that word, nor do they look it up. The answer is always, “Stop bothering me– no — if I wanted your service I would call for it”. Then there is the double knock done simultaneously while you are opening a door to a room where someone is naked, and didn’t have time to say, “Stop, don’t come in”. The people offering service don’t always think and the managers don’t generally train people.
Don’t sweat the details.
An American expression. Paying enough attention to perspire is what we call “Sweating the details”. In America we say, “Eon’t sweat the details”, but in India, I strongly recommend working up a great deal of sweat about details and then taking a relaxing bath. Inspect what your staff does, and how they do it. The details are always wrong in India, and that will get you fired from American clients really fast. I met a hotel manager who said, “Think about what to do, how to do, when to do”. I agree with him profusely, however, he should be dictating to his staff what to do. They are not educated and he is, therefore the manager should do the thinking.
How does this apply to outsourcing?
Outsourcing companies have the same sins that hotels do. They will offer a good service, but lack quality on the “details”. Pay attention to the details. How do you greet people on the phone, how do you present work, how do you track worker performance, etc. Each industry has different things to pay attention to. So, its up to you to figure out what to pay attention to, and then you will get ahead. Foreign companies are coming to India and eating up the market share. They pay attention to details and they will eat your market share for dinner if you don’t!
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